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Milwaukee Common Council approves list of pop-up early voting sites

People at a polling booth.
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Twenty-seven sites could potentially serve as in-person absentee voting and drop box locations.

Updated 2:54 p.m. CDT

The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday to potentially turn Fiserv Forum and local businesses into pop-up early voting sites.

Gee’s Clippers and Coffee Makes You Black are among the 27 potential sites that could serve as in-person absentee voting and drop box locations.

During a May 23 judiciary and legislation meeting, Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said some of the locations in the list were requested by community members.

“It also includes some exciting new additions that will be daily sites for the November election,” she said. “That includes Serb Hall and Mexican Fiesta. We think that both of these sites will be well-suited to meet the demand that we experience at Zablocki Library, which tends to have longer lines because our voting room is so small there.”

Woodall-Vogg said the list is a thoughtful way to connect with non-voters. She said community hubs like the Social Development Commission could be an excellent resource for the city.

“These are sites where we would work with community groups to host the events. They would not be daily sites, but instead we will have noticed them properly and could really try a new way to reach non-voters.”

“We also think that they will both serve as important anchors as we work to make sure that our Latino community has the resources they need and the knowledge in order to register and to vote, if they so choose,” she added.

Woodall-Vogg said some of the proposed sites don’t know they’re on the list. She said the list is an effort to prepare before the election, and out of an abundance of caution, while the city waits on a state Supreme Court ruling that could remove drop boxes.

“We will likely have between 12 and 15 daily locations for the November election, and then host these pop-up sites,” she said. “But I wanted to make sure that we cover all of our bases and kind of use this as our insurance policy as we go into the fall.”

Drop boxes were a popular option for voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 500 drop boxes were used in Wisconsin in 2020, according to a WUWM report.

The city abandoned its plans to use Fiserv Forum and American Family Field as early voting sites before the last presidential election. Officials feared the ballots could be challenged in court, since the locations were chosen after the deadline required by state law.

“It became apparent that the council should be approving our early voting sites, so we did not include Fiserv Forum on that list,” Woodall-Vogg said. “So, because we didn't include it in June, we were not able to notice them as an early voting site for the November cycle.”

Woodall-Vogg said 2020 was a learning experience for the city’s election commission. That’s why they intend on following state statute ahead of this year’s election with its list of proposed sites.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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